Monday, January 27, 2014

AKA Ashley Blue | An interview with Oriana Small

It was Los Angeles, Summer 2011. I had either been on my way to or from a late dinner at Swingers Diner with alt porn aficionado and creator of Vivid Alt, Eon McKai when he told me we just needed to drop in to Dave Naz's house for a second. Of course I was well aware of Dave's photography work and film creations for Vivid Alt and was excited to meet him in person. One of the things I walked away from after meeting Dave and his ex-pornstar wife Ori (aka Ashley Blue) was the affirmation of the true fictionality and contradictory aspect of the porn industry. These were two really cool people and by looking at them you would never guess they were a part of the porn industry. 
Oriana was small in stature, quiet and sweet. Dave was a tall clean-cut old school punk music fiend with impeccable manners. Not at all what most would expect given the stereotypes normally perceived by the public. Dave and Oriana seemed like a perfect match and I was curious to look into her background in the industry. Of course, after doing a little research I begun to see just how much of a role Ori had played in the industry and to extent of the role it played on her. Oriana had released her memoir 'Girlvert' to both praise and criticism. After reading the book myself I was engaged by the honesty and rawness of the accounts much unlike any other porn star autobiographies I had read. Girlvert is a candid and explicit insider look into the world of porn from beginning to end.  Blood, spit, piss, semen, gonorrhea, bruises and all. 

I was determined on interviewing Ori about it. This is that interview. 

 I recently finished reading your book "Girlvert: A Porno Memoir. What struck me the most about the book was the candid way you spoke about sometimes quiet confrontational and personal moments in your life and career. When you approached writing this book how did you decide what you felt was important to talk about and what wasn't? 

I only wanted to write about the exciting things. The gruesome details of stories are what keep me wanting to read. I didn't want to look cool or like a victim. I really just wanted to stick to the details were unforgettable to me at the time I wrote it. To be honest, I'm lucky that I wrote it a few years ago. If I had to do it today, my memory would be too old and less passionate. 

I was fresh off of my bukkake firing when all this was written. My perspective was at it's most dramatic, for sure. That made the book better. 

What initially made you consider writing the memoir and what do you think makes it different or more unique then the loads of other bios on the shelf by porn stars? 

Each chapter in the book was originally a story I was telling to my husband, Dave Naz. I would tell him a bunch of crazy things that I did before we were together and he said, "You have to write this down." I would write down a story (chapter) and read it out loud to him when I was done. They piled up until I didn't really have anything left to say. Because I was telling it all to the person that I loved, I could say anything, and did. It felt complete to the point of excessiveness at the end. I felt so naked when we handed over those pages to strangers. Way more exposed and vulnerable than I have ever felt. This wasn't my body. It was my fucking heart, mind and soul. Holy shit, what did I do? Oh well, too late. Ha!

When I wrote about the beginning and getting into doing porn, I wrote down The Smiths line, "I was looking for a job and now I found a job. And heaven knows I'm miserable now… "
"What you ask of me at the end of the day, Caligula would have blushed."

All of this stuff was just swimming around in my head and I put it down to entertain my husband and it helped me just accept the past without shame. It was art and all had a purpose. That felt good.

I think my book is different from other porn memoirs because I wrote it with absolutely no image or agenda in mind. I am a person, not an icon in any way. I didn't feel successful or guarded, like I had to protect the former ideal image of my porno persona. This book was an act of liberation and independence. 

I had no hopes of making money either. It was too scary to hope for that, for fear of the ultimate let down. So, it just went out like true art. And I am so thankful for that.
This was more of an ode to the crazy girl that was gone with the wind. So I didn't leave any potentially damaging thing out. I was trying to preserve the pure story, not thinking of how I would be perceived or judged in the future by my peers. My time in the spotlight was gone as a performer and my ego had deflated a lot. So I let it all out and felt free. And writing made me a much less bitter person because I was able to put that passion into a project, instead of letting it fester. Writing a complete story made me feel in charge of my life, instead of like a cast away or discarded character.

One thing that seems to be a reoccurring theme in many porn stars stories is the unhealthy relationships with boyfriends, the drugs and the diseases. At the time a lot of these things may not have seemed so discernible to you. After finishing Girlvert did your perception of some of the events, interactions or relationships change?

I think my perception of the past has actually gotten more fond. I laugh about more of those moments than ever! I love talking to fellow performers and cracking up about old times. Sharing and relating all the insanity helped me get over whatever pain there was. I don't feel pain anymore at all. I wear my battle wounds as badges of honor. The vile behavior makes me more interesting at parties. Getting choked, gonorrhea, gang bangs, meth, coke, Xanax and all of those wild relationships were totally meaningful and I am grateful to this day that I had them. The emotions that I experienced bond me to anyone that reads this book. All that past stuff brought me to this moment, which I am deeply grateful for.

You've won various awards in the Porn Industry throughout your career - Performer of the Year, Most Outrageous Sex Scene, Best Supporting Actress, Best All Girl Sex Scene. When you look back on those accolades now does it seem surreal that this was in effect your "day job"?

I can't even believe that I was honored so much during my career. I am really one of the lucky ones. I'm really proud of all of those accolades. Thank you, AVN especially, Peter Warren, Paul Fishbein, Amanda Fishbein, Troy Fuss, and JM Productions. Mark Johnson at Hustler Magazine, Lee Forbes and Ernest Greene at Taboo, Vivid Radio and Playboy TV have also been very supportive. I am just one lucky little whore, at the right time and right place. I just want to make them all Damn Proud of me now. I was encouraged from the first day I walked into Jim South's office at World Modeling. 

 Pornography is my community and I hope that I am giving back by what do now. I write about the new girls coming up and review new movies in AVN Magazine and Hustler Magazine. My weekly radio show, Blue Movies is on Vivid Radio SiriusXM102. I play clips from movies that I love and have hot female guests that are on the rise, all striving to achieve those same accolades that I was fortunate enough to get during my career. There's nothing better than giving that kind of encouragement back to the world that gave me so much. 

To quote my favorite poet and singer, Morrissey. From the song, 'You Know I Couldn't Last'

"The critics who, can't break you
They somehow help to make you
The critics who, can't break you, unwittingly they make you"

The list should go on… IVD, GVA, West Coast News, Adam Film World, XRCO. I love you all. Thank you!

Sasha Grey & Ori

You've often said that you don't regret your porn career but do you think there are some parts of it that you would have done very differently now in hindsight? 

It's really hard to say whether I would go back and do anything differently. I don't believe in fate, but I do strongly believe in cause and effect. And besides, I loved every second of those crazy years! I reminisce and fantasize about doing it all over again and exactly the same, but truly enjoying it, knowing that everything will be just fine. Hindsight makes every sleepless, ugly night a sentimental memory. Maybe now, I wish I'd gone even bigger, harder and worse. I do regret doing that bukkake, since now they don't even make them like that anymore. You never really miss something until the chance is gone, I guess. 

 You started out in the industry at 20 and its possible you could say you have pretty much done everything sexual that can be done. In the book, it was very apparent that a lot of what was going on onscreen was happening also off screen. Now that you've left the industry is this still the case or are the group sex and anal escapades just a remnant of the past, of Ashley Blue? 

The group sex is definitely a part of the past. I get grossed out too easily now. A I'm old, not as energetic and am distracted too easily now. I would not try as hard to be good in a gang bang now. Porn is a wonderful outlet for exercising any sexual curiosity, with not a lot of strings attached. More importantly, you get a video and photos, which are great for later on. I look at those things now in awe. And if you get over the initial and temporary embarrassment, it's endearing. If I didn't feel like I was giving away part of my soul, then it wouldn't have been interesting. There would be nothing to lose. 
And I love that fear. I look for ways to slightly shock and feel small. I like to break down. Those are the moments I remember most vividly.

Lydia Lunch & Ori

How do you disconnect now from Ashley Blue as Oriana Small? In some minds I guess once a porn star always a porn star. What legacy has Ashley left on the now present Oriana? 

Ashley Blue is just my stage name. It is me. My real name is more like home, and the stage name the business side, I guess. But I like both. They're funny.
Call me Ori if you want. Or Ashley. I don't mind. I like it. My birth name was Oriana Rene Small. But when I got married in 2009, I changed my last name to match my husband's, so that we could be a true family. My middle name is Small now. I had to drop the Rene part. My parents spelled it wrong anyway. 

As I've already mentioned there is a very honest and raw storytelling in Girlvert. But I have to admit that towards the closing chapters of the book there seemed to be a noticeable shift in your openness particularly when talking about meeting Dave Naz. Was this something you consciously considered and do you think its possible you reached a pivotal point in your personal life where the lines between public and private came to a head?

The pivotal point was happening for sure. The end of that book was the beginning of my next phase of life. I was saying goodbye, with love, to the past. All of it was fresh and I had no idea what to expect. Even though Dave and I are living happily ever after, I still have no idea what I will make of myself career wise It is just one thing at a time. I'm old!

I had the pleasure I've meeting you, Dave and your amazing cat a few years ago and by all accounts you seem like a down to earth and sweet couple. How has your life changed now that you have made this connection with Dave and whats next for Oriana Small?

Dave is the reason for anything good coming out of my body or mind. He straightens me out, daily. I never thought that I could be happy, but I am today, because he makes me. We have a joke, that he forces me to be nice and be happy, despite all my self-loathing. It's perfect. 

I'm supposed to be painting, writing and working on my radio show now. I'm really lazy at heart, so it's not easy to multitask. 

But the radio show is once a week, the biggest commitment I have in my life besides my marriage. I'm used to being a lazy slob, so wish me luck!

Dave & Ori

For someone who has no idea about Girlvert, what would you say about the book and why should they pick it up? 

Find some dark humor and read it all the way through. It was written for a bad reader, like myself, who can't finish even a magazine article in one sitting. But it's an easy read. You will crack up at all of the bizarre porn circumstances, which lead you into some very connective tissue. Hearts breaking for the same reasons that they would anywhere. Someone lies, they both cheat, they're young, hurtful and confused, selfish beyond repair and drugged up. It will make the readers feel better about themselves and like me more, I hope. I really share some terrible details. So if nothing else, you've got those. And it all ends happily, so please remember that! 

"We laugh about it now, but at the time it was terrible."
Morrissey style :)

More Oriana Small :